A Letter from Julie A. Fream
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A New Definition for “Safety” in the Auto Industry
Many organizations start their meetings by stating their “safety” mantras. Most plant operations have emergency stop buttons to halt the line if there is a problem. There are lockouts on machines, guidelines for phone usage, and signs everywhere on PPE requirements and social distancing protocols. But, as industry leaders strive to learn from the ongoing protests around the country, it is apparent the auto industry missed something on safety.
Not everyone at the workplace feels safe.
The industry has had the conversations – and even mandatory training – to create awareness of unintentional bias and the need for diversity and inclusion. However, I urge you to reflect on the true effectiveness of these efforts. Has your organization’s culture really changed regarding these issues? Do each of your employees commit to treating people fairly, being open to new ideas, and showing respect to everyone?
It is time for the auto industry to create a new environment for personal safety.
We need to redefine what safety means and go beyond being physically safe in the work environment – beyond playing it safe with diversity training. We must commit to ensure all employees are truly accepted and safe in our companies. We need to create a “line stop” button to allow for even the most silent voices to be heard. The uncomfortable situations created by misguided comments must be called out and discussed – and everyone needs to own this responsibility.
In the next few weeks, OESA will create a “Safety Mantra” for our team and events. We will share it at the beginning of every OESA event. This new mantra will be OESA’s commitment to employees and members that in our environment, everyone is equally respected and that all voices will be heard. Together, we will work to ensure this environment is protected and maintained. OESA also commits that in this environment, anyone can “stop the line” to address a safety issue, including racism. The OESA team takes this responsibility seriously, as we all must, to ensure the auto industry is truly engaged in creating real safety for everyone.
What are you doing to make your organization safe for all?
With much hope,